E-Z access

In reply to Jack Lessenberry's column entitled "Party Made For Walkin'" (Politics & Prejudices, MT, Oct. 27-Nov. 2), I am happy that Lessenberry decided to write about our upcoming presidential caucus. Unfortunately the vote-by-mail program, which is the most innovative part of the caucus, was not mentioned. The vote-by-mail program will give everyone access to the Michigan Democratic Party caucus.

Caucuses have been praised as models of grassroots and retail politics. There will be 12 states throughout the nation holding Democratic presidential caucuses, including Iowa and Michigan. The Michigan Democratic Party modeled its caucus after Iowa, to give voters the best option available. And, with voters congregating in local locations, they also will have the opportunity to meet federal, state and local candidates, and discuss issues and policies of interest.

The party has ensured that as many people as possible will be able to participate on March 11, 2000, and those that cannot vote that day will be able to vote by mail.

In 2000, our caucuses promise to be among the most inclusive in history. Not only will every county in Michigan have at least one location for voters to attend, but many counties will have numerous locations. These locations will be centrally located and designed to be accessible for all.

The party's caucuses will be open to all. The only requirement will be a declaration, made on March 11, that the voter is participating as a Democrat. The Democratic National Committee imposes this requirement to ensure that Republicans do not raid the Democratic nominating process and create mischief.

The most innovative part of the Michigan Democratic Party's presidential caucus will be a vote-by-mail program that will allow participants who cannot attend the caucus for various reasons to vote for their candidates at home. Unlike our GOP opponents, who oppose making voter registration and participation easier, we are implementing ways to make voting easier. This is the first time the party will attempt such an innovative program to reach out to as many voters as possible and both of our presidential candidates have already expressed considerable interest in vote-by-mail.

Not only is the Democratic Party process open and more innovative than the GOP process, but the Michigan Republican Party primary, which is a taxpayer-funded private nominating process, is a winner-take-all format rigged to favor George W. Bush. The Michigan Democratic Party caucus system allows any candidate who collects 15 percent of the vote in a congressional district or 15 percent statewide to send Michigan delegates to the national convention. This demonstrates

the Democratic caucus is more inclusive, and provides greater and more honest representation than is possible under GOP rules.

We are proud of the plan the Michigan Democratic Party established for the presidential caucus, especially vote-by-mail, and I look forward to a competitive caucus that will give every voter the opportunity to vote for their favorite candidate and strengthen the Michigan Democratic Party. I encourage everyone, including Jack Lessenberry, to vote on March 11. If you cannot attend a caucus site, vote by mail. If anyone has any questions or would like to participate, please feel free to contact the party at 517-371-5410, fax us at 517-371-2056, e-mail us or check out our Web site.

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